South Florida halted a two-game skid and took sole possession of second place in the National Division with a 68-54 win Wednesday night against Tulane in New Orleans.
“It came right down to what I said before the game,” USF coach Seth Greenberg said. “We couldn’t get caught up winning and losing, we had to get caught up in playing good basketball and competing. And if we competed and played good basketball (and) were unselfish and played hard, then the winning and losing would take care of itself, and that’s what happened.”
Tulane scored the first two points of the game, but the Bulls never trailed again. The win came on the heels of back-to-back losses to Memphis and Charlotte.
“We played a great game against Charlotte, (and) we played a great game against Memphis, we just didn’t make shots,” Reggie Kohn said. “Against Charlotte, we didn’t lose that game, they won it with big shots down the stretch. I knew we we’re going to be fine, we were going to bounce back and keep bouncing back the rest of this year.”
The Bulls gained control early, leading by as many as 15 midway through the first half. Tulane went on an 8-0 run near the end of the half to trim the lead to five, but USF regained the momentum with baskets by Mike Bernard and Altron Jackson in the closing seconds to turn the tide back in favor of the Bulls.
“They made runs, (but) the last two plays of the first half were huge for our team without a doubt,” Greenberg said.The Bulls’ defense held Tulane to 1-of-7 from the three-point arc in the first half and forced 11 turnovers.
And USF’s defense was stingier in the second half.Despite the Bulls only scoring 17 points in the remaining 15:30 and enduring a five-minute scoreless stretch, USF’s defense surrendered only eight points in the final 11 minutes.
“I thought that defensively, we were very, very good,” Greenberg said. “I thought that Greg Brittian was magnificent. We were very unselfish (and) we managed the clock in the second half pretty well.”
Jackson led the Bulls in scoring with 17 points, joining B.B. Waldon (15), Brittian (11) and Mike Bernard (10) in double figures. Kohn chipped in with six points and nine assists.
- Brandon Wright covers men’s basketball and can be reached at email@example.com